Welcome to Cultural Profiles of Historic and Modern China. As you visit the seven cities/regions featured on the site, Shanghai, Qingdao, Qufu, Beijing, Xi'an, Chengdu and Tibet, you will examine various elements that shape a culture: food, shelter, work, recreation, art, religion and so on. You will observe how culture spreads and evolves over the course of time and how past cultures impact the current one. You will also notice how people adapt to the environment around them; find various ways to meet their basic needs; take, or leave behind, knowledge, traditions and beliefs learned from earlier generations or interaction with other peoples; and use their imaginations, spiritual yearnings and ingenuity to create a unique way of living.

As you travel through the site, keep in mind that China is a vast and complex country. It is home to a staggering 1.3 billion people; is both geographically and ethnically diverse; has both rural and urban ways of life; and has a long and complicated history -- all making its culture more varied and fascinating. While the profiles of this site will introduce you to Chinese culture, they can only begin to scratch the surface. As with any culture, there is always much more to discover!

Key Questions

As you explore Chinese culture, consider these key questions:

How do nature (geography, climate, flora and fauna, etc.) and people interact to create unique cultural landscapes?

What human characteristics does a culture add to the landscape of a region?

How is a culture reflected in its land use and use of natural resources?

Which cultural traits are evidence of cultural diffusion or cultural assimilation and acculturation?

To what degree are local cultures distinct from the broader culture?

To what degree does the local culture impact the broader culture?

To what degree does the broader culture impact the local culture?

Where does culture come from and how do we pass it on?

What are the elements of a culture that make it unique?

How is culture expressed through the arts?

How do majority and minority cultures interact with each other?


  • To begin, choose a region on the map or select the Alphabetical Index and a region; then select a timeline and a section. (Important: Some profiles only have one timeline. You must select it to see the section titles.)
  • Mouse over the caption area at the bottom of a slide show to reveal thumbnails.
  • Move mouse up, down, left or right to reveal more of some photos.
  • At any point, click on the Back to Menu tab to return to the previous menu page. (Keep clicking it to return to the map.)
  • Click on The CSP Home Page at the top left to return to a menu of the China School Project's Online Travel Resources.

Viewing Tips

For optimal viewing, set your screen resolution to 1024 x 768 pixels or higher. (To set the screen resolution: Minimize all windows, right mouse click on the Desktop, choose Properties/Settings, set the screen resolution and then click OK.) Compatible with Internet Explorer 6.0 and above.

If prompted, choose Allow Active Content.

Foundation Support

Cultural Profiles of Historic and Modern China is made possible with support from the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation and the Freeman Foundation.